Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Open-source Development for Malaria Drug Discovery
Link via FP Passport

::: Ten Maps That Changed The World
Link via kottke

::: Youth and Social Media Reputation
danah boyd weighs in on the privacy issues in light of the latest Pew research.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

09-10 Ember Interns - Improvements

Two things come immediately to mind that we could have improved upon:
+ More Scripture - especially from a leadership/mission lens.
There was a good bit at the beginning but not so much as the year went on.

+ More intentional time practicing being with people.
A great filter for this is from The Forgotten Ways : presence, proclamation, proximity, powerlessness. We were hardly ever out and about with people in public third spaces.

What I've realized is that much of this comes from me. Systematic, intentional reading through the Bible has always been a struggle personally. And practicing those four Ps is not something I am in the habit of, but probably should be.

Granted these are small compared to what we actually did do. But feedback and continuous improvement is important so we're jotting it down. I'm making the interns fill out a feedback survey - will post those comments later on.

[This is a series of posts evaluating the Ember intern process for 2009-2010: Overview, Positives]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This is the first donation received for Ember's AZ project for this summer. The donation was for DoK, a definite apostolic starter. How do we know? The distance between her acceptance on the team and getting support = 9 days.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My 2010 Support Letter

Below is my support letter - some of you will be getting this personally as well. Appreciate you readers being a part of our journey. Definitely contact me via email or comment if you are interested in praying/supporting us.


You probably aren't wondering what this letter is about - you are right - it's a missions support letter. But more than that, let me catch you up. In the summer of 2009, I started a small nonprofit called The Ember Cast []. Ember is a group of talented, passionate and experienced guides that mentor, resource and inspire the next generation in the areas of global missions, world cultures, and leadership development. We exist to reignite the Jesus fire in each student and to launch them out to serve a world in need. Much of Ember's ethos came out of my experience serving in student missions in the past few years and it's an exciting next step.

With that, Ember is facilitating it's first summer student mission experience. This summer, I'm taking a small team of students to partner with Amadeo Church in Gilbert, AZ. Amadeo's pastor, Ben Cloud, is innovative, catalytic and apostolic - in many ways, he represents a global ministry leader of the future. They will learn about catalytic leadership, the integration of community and the local church and engaging a post-Christian, post-modern suburban, desert culture. Some of the activities will include college outreach, Bible kid clubs, homeless outreach, missional learning sessions and serving projects for a portable church. We will be there from July 11 - 19 and this team represents some of our most promising student 'apostolic starters'. I'm excited to see what innovative expressions of the Kingdom get started from these friends.

Our 12 year old daughter K will be joining me for this - we are both excited to serve together and for her to contribute to this team and engage some of these concepts in real life. Together, we have to raise about $1200 to cover transportation costs. If you would be inclined, it would be great to have your prayer and/or financial support. Donations are tax-deductible [but please read the paragraph at the end of this letter]. Your check can be payable to The Ember Cast, [contact me directly for the address.] I've enclosed an envelope too but if you feel like making a donation, let me know and I will come get it if you don't feel like mailing it. That way, we can spend at least a little bit of time face to face.

As always, much more real time info at You can also find me on facebook and on twitter [@tonytsheng]. I'd appreciate your prayers for safe travel, helping catalytic leaders learn and a team environment that empowers these students.

Thanks also for supporting our family in the past few months with the passing of my dad. We are all on the mend now and still continue to appreciate so many kind words, thoughts, cards and prayers as we grieved Franks passing. My mom is doing fairly well managing her health pretty well. Thanks again for your friendship, support and joining us as we throw fire.

*The Ember Cast, Inc (Ember) is a non-profit corporation formed under the Maryland guidelines for a nonstock corporation. Although a Maryland non-profit, Ember does not automatically receive federal tax-exempt status. Ember is presently in the process of applying for status as a federal tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. While Ember's application is pending with the IRS, donations made by individuals and legal entities may be treated as tax deductible by the donor. It is important to note that, if Ember's exemption is denied for any reason, donors would not be able to claim a deduction as a result of the donation, and any donor who previously submitted a federal income tax return that reflected the donation as a charitable deduction would be required to revise that return. However, in light of its stated purpose, and its application, Ember does not believe that it will be denied an exemption, but it is not possible to provide a guaranty with respect to the outcome of the IRS's process.

[Related: My missions support letters - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Limanality = Throwing Up

The term 'liminality' is used by anthropologists to denote 'that situation where people find themselves in an in-between, marginal state in relation to the surrounding society, a place that could involve significant danger and disorientation.' - The Forgotten Ways

This is the exact threshold we are finding ourselves in right now. Ember has about $100 in the bank and we are expected to be in AZ with a team of 8 or 9 in exactly two months. The team is mostly assembled and some of them are having some serious doubts as to identifying and engaging a team of supporters, raising enough funding and actually stepping out to go. Our first big milestone is getting support letters out so that we can purchase plane tickets. Limanality = one of those throw up moments.

To be honest, I've stepped far back from this edge in the past few years. It comes from fear, maybe age and lifestage, and a large disposition to avoid risk. And that disposition was built into me from a very young age - D will tell you that it's a struggle I've had all of my adult life. The idea that "risk is bad no matter what they reward is" is a bad script in my head.

But this is where we learn. We take the step of faith, we step out into the unknown, we commit and make the best of it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Burn

::: Uganda's first skatepark

::: An apprenticeship program for young leaders, style.

::: "The same design that fuels mass overconsumption has the power to repair the world."
- David Berman, as quoted in this video about Charity:Water.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

09-10 Ember Interns - The Pluses

What we did right:
+ Blogs.
Making the interns jot down their ideas and reflections was hands down the best idea. If for nothing else, writing helps them think. And like all blogs, they will serve as journals for a time in their life. See and

+ Great content.
Their reading list included Movements, The Forgotten Ways, and Waking the Dead - some of the favorites around here. Also current material on culture, church planting, unreached people groups, urbanization, globalization, and leadership multiplication.

+ Face to face connections.
Connected them face to face with people around here doing the work, not just talking about it. And not just church people but kingdom people.

+ Embraced creativity, innovation, and new expressions of the Church.
Most of the field trips we did reflected this. I can't think of any of them that were "traditional" or stereotypically "church" in any sense - loved that.

+ Served.
Catalytic leaders serve in a movement context - so not only was it great fun to serve with them, we gave them a context to serve and catalyze others in the process.

[This is a series of posts evaluating the Ember intern process for 2009-2010: Overview]

Monday, May 17, 2010

Building Strong

Most of you know that I'm a big Strengths Finder fan. I have seen the assessment provide an incredible amount of value to people in the areas of self-awareness, leadership development and teamwork. So you shouldn't be surprised that the interns have taken the assessment and that the strengths vocabulary is a regular part of our conversations.

I also asked Dale Swinburne to provide a strengths session for these guys. Dale is a certified Gallup Faith Field Adviser and has worked with hundreds of people relating their strengths to career, teams and ministry. Here's a few new things that I learned from our session:
- Some of us have been degenerated all of our lives based on what was most true of us.
- Restorative [not broken yet] -> Developer [anyone can make progress] -> Maximizer [only take great into best]
- Context [historical] -> Adaptability [the now] -> Futuristic [the future]
- Discipline [OCD] vs Arranger [ADD]
- Arranger - think lots of variables with lots of outcomes instead of a puzzle with one outcome
- The Strengths conversation can fast forward relationships.
- We gravitate towards specific concepts that relate to our strengths even if we haven't identified our talents yet. Think about what stories you are drawn to and why.

Dale and Alex McManus also did an internet radio show based on the Strengths - a 45 minute discussion on each of them. Some of you would probably love listening to that.

[Related: Vision Trekk Wisconsin]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ember 501 Submitted

Big day for Ember yesterday - we have officially submitted the paperwork to become a IRS recognized non profit.

According to IRS rules, while our application is pending, donations can be tax-deductible, so if you are interested in supporting student missions leadership, get in touch with me directly. Believe it or not, some of you might also be getting a support letter from me too....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Burn

::: Is the global war on AIDS falling apart?
Link via @beckystraw

::: What Your Kids Want Most From You
The answer might surprise you.

::: Teens and Mobile Phones
Sexting isn't as prevalent as the media suggests [like 30%... or is it 20%?]. My 12 year old is in the minority - we are probably the last hold outs. =)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

09-10 Ember Interns - Activities

I've loved every minute of this year working with the interns. We've had a ton of fun and the experience with them has been fantastic.

Here are some of the highlights of what these guys have experienced.
The Idea Camp DC
Catalyst One Day
Middle East welcoming party
Ember Philadelphia
The Bridge
Steve Addison
Here is a summary of their reading/writing assignments.
We've got a few more things planned before they finish school and graduate and instantly become adults. And of course, the summer.

Future posts will touch on what we did right, what we could have improved upon and characteristics of future global leadership.

[This is a series of posts evaluating the Ember intern process for 2009-2010.]

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Arizona

The AZ trip is centered around two groups of people - the interns [and you know about them] and Ben Cloud. Three things that I appreciate about Ben.

He is an apostolic starter. Partnerships, expansion of the Gospel, momentum, empowering leaders, embracing the tension of chaos - he's got a great grasp of all of it. At the core, we need more starters and for them, Ben is great to learn from.

He has a holistic view about a local community and church. He loves the community that he lives in - just as much as his loves his church. In his mind, both exist integrated.

He loves his family and staff. One summer, he intentionally scheduled the summer off for all his youth volunteers, freeing them up for a summer of sabbath, serving in other ways or spending a good amount of quality time with their own families. Most churches would have fired someone for that.

It's easy to ask, why Arizona? Couldn't the energies and resources be spent on something else - say unreached or immigrants or orphans and widows? Yes, of course, absolutely. The reason this trip exists is to facilitate this team learning from Ben. We could do those things certainly. But I'm betting that this team expands the Gospel in those forms above and more, exponentially, from learning from Ben for a week.

Friday, May 07, 2010

One of these things is not like the other

I've been to two mentorship receptions for each of the interns in the past few weeks. I'm always impressed with what these students take on - interning with doctors, lawyers, engineers, educators... and student ministry global catalysts.

It's been a great year with ARotolo and JTimmons - I'll have more reflections to sum up the internship in some future posts. But right now, it's enough to say that they drove a huge amount of what Ember was this year - what we did, why we did it and what direction to move in. That of course was huge. Just as big, Ember and these guys was a very vital outlet for me in light of some very difficult family circumstances over the past few months - a very, very healthy hobby. In many ways, it kept me sane.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wednesday Burn

::: Around the world in 80 seconds
Link via

::: Diagnosing anemia without electricity
How? Use the salad-spinner-based thirty dollar centrifuge, developed by Rice undergraduate students Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis.
Link via metafilter

::: Marin Century
A 100-Year Missional Plan for Sustainable, Multi-Generation Outreach
Long read but well worth it. Reminds me of the final paper in Perspectives - strategy plan to reach an unreached people group. Brad's stuff is always a great read and please note the long term thinking. [100! years]

::: What is it like to be Andy Stanley's middle school pastor?

Monday, May 03, 2010

AZ - 2005 to 2010

I started this blog in 2004 to document what we were doing with students. It was unclear who, if anyone, would be reading and at worst, it could take me down memory lane. Instead, Ben Cloud kept reading. And commenting. And emailing.

Ben was already doing what I had envisioned - engaging students in global realities; mentoring and equipping them; partnering with people he trusted to launch them both close and far. In the spring of 2005, he invited me - sight unseen - to work with him and his students on a multi-faceted community outreach week.

Without ever meeting him face to face, or talking to him on the phone, I flew out and served with him for 4 days. We partner again this summer.